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Scam Spotlight: “Phantom Debt Collection!”

This is what the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) calls the texts, emails or social media messages you receive insisting you owe a past due amount for a loan, credit card or another bogus debt. These “so called collectors” are aggressive, demanding and at times threatening. The most common types of threats are arrest or a lawsuit. The FTC reports in 2020 an 8% increase in the phantom debt collection. The holiday season is behind us, and scammers will be out in full force claiming FAKE-debts!

AARP warning signs:

  • You receive a call, email, text or direct message claiming you owe a debt you do not recognize.
  • The collector threatens to have you arrested, something the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) says legitimate collectors should not do.
  • They demand immediate payment.
  • They want you to pay via gift card, wire transfer or prepaid debit card. These are methods favored by scammers because they are difficult to trace.

If you feel you have been a victim of a Phantom Debt Collection, call Aging Resources and request to speak with an Elder Rights Specialist at 515-255-1310.

  • Report the scammer (debt collector) to Iowa Attorney Generals office at 515-281-5923 or 800-777-4590.
  • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at 855-411-2372.
  • Federal Trade Commission 877-382-4357.